Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘caught our notice’ Category

Caught Our Notice: Doesn’t anyone do a literature review any more?

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Via Wikimedia

Titles: (1) Whole-Genome De Novo Sequencing of the Lignin-Degrading Wood Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (ATCC 20696)

(2) Structure revision of aspergicin by the crystal structure of aspergicine, a co-occurring isomer produced by co-culture of two mangrove epiphytic fungi

What Caught Our Attention: Two articles by different groups of authors recently suffered from the same (fatal) flaw: A poor literature review. The article, “Whole-Genome De Novo Sequencing of the Lignin-Degrading Wood Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (ATCC 20696),” claimed to have sequenced a strain already sequenced in 2004 and published in a well-cited article.  According to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, the 2004 article was cited 474 times before the now-retracted article was published. And that 2004 article appeared in a highly-cited journal, Nature Biotechnology. Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: Journals still (slowly) purging archives of bad cell line studies

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Title: Tanshinone IIA Induces Apoptosis in Human Oral Cancer KB Cells through a Mitochondria-Dependent Pathway

What Caught Our Attention: Thousands of papers have relied on contaminated or wrong cell lines, a problem journals have not been particularly proactive in addressing. So far, only a few studies have been retracted for using misidentified cell lines. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

January 11th, 2018 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: “Ironically,” same error in same journal “was noted last year”

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Title: Sleep quality and body composition variations in obese male adults after 14 weeks of yoga intervention: A randomized controlled trial

What Caught Our Attention: Last year, researchers led by David Allison at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health called for the retraction of an article linking weight loss and obese female yoga participants in the International Journal of Yoga, citing problems with randomization and baseline statistics. Despite the first author’s statement that he planned to retract the article, the journal refused to retract it.   Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: Unusual — journal flags paper for concerns, then updates them

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Title: Filled and peptide-modified single-walled carbon nanotubes: synthesis, characterization, and in vitro test for cancer cell targeting

What Caught Our Attention: After an expression of concern (EOC) is published in a journal, the usual procedure is to either publish a subsequent correction or retraction — or, unfortunately, leave it sit ad infinitum. But apparently, there’s another option. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

January 3rd, 2018 at 9:01 am

Caught Our Notice: After ORI flags a paper by former grad student, university flags another

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Title: The L3MBTL3 Methyl-Lysine Reader Domain Functions As a Dimer

What Caught Our Attention: Six months ago, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) determined that former graduate student Brandi Baughman had doctored 11 figures in a PLOS ONE article, which was retracted shortly after.  The PLOS ONE paper listed two affiliations for Baughman — the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC); now UNC has triggered a second retraction of a paper co-authored by Baughman, also due to research misconduct. Although the ORI notice makes no mention of this additional paper, the agency recently took a “targeted approach” by not issuing comprehensive findings of misconduct for one researcher, in order to conserve resources. Of course, sometimes universities make findings that don’t meet the ORI’s bar, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

January 1st, 2018 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Researcher who sued PubPeer commenter draws 19th retraction  

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Title: Increased Ras GTPase activity is regulated by miRNAs that can be attenuated by CDF treatment in pancreatic cancer cells

What Caught Our Attention: We’ve been following cancer scientist Fazlul Sarkar for years, as he (unsuccessfully) sought to expose the identity of a PubPeer commenter who he believes cost him a job offer. In November 2016, the ACLU released a copy of a misconduct investigation report compiled by Wayne State University, which concluded Sarkar ran a laboratory “culture” of “fabrication, falsification and/or plagiarism of data,” and recommended the retraction of 42 papers and correction of 10 papers. He’s now lodged his 19th retraction. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

December 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Using this research tool? You’d better ask first

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Title: Patient Education After CABG: Are We Teaching the Wrong Information?

What Caught Our Attention: We’ve written about the controversy surrounding a commonly used tool to measure whether patients are sticking to their drug regimen, known as the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-8). It can cost thousands of dollars — and using it without payment/permission earns researchers a call from a collector, who has used legal threats to compel multiple teams to withdraw their papers (a phenomenon we wrote about in Science). The creator of the tool argues it’s copyrighted, and demanding fees ensures researchers use it properly, which avoids putting patients at risk. We’ve found a notice (paywalled, tsk-tsk) that reveals another group of authors used the tool without permission and, according to the notice, “incorrectly.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: Oops — 10-fold error reverses heart warning for Ghanaians

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Title: Ghanaians Might Be at Risk of Inadequate Dietary Intake of Potassium

What Caught Our Attention: Potassium-rich diets are thought to be “heart-healthy,” and after examining the average dietary habits of Ghanaian adults, researchers determined the average potassium (K) intake to be well below global standards.  However, the authors’ calculations of potassium intake per capita were too low by factor of 10, resulting in the incorrect conclusion that the average potassium intake was only 856 mg per day, an amount substantially lower than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of 3510 mg/day.  The new calculations show an average K intake of 8,560 mg/day, well over the WHO guideline.  

We asked the corresponding author, David Oscar Yawson, about the source of the error, and he responded:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

December 20th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Columbia researcher up to five retractions

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Title: Endotoxaemia during left ventricular assist device insertion: relationship between risk factors and outcome

What Caught Our Attention: Robert J. Frumento first caught our notice in 2013, as a coauthor on a paper retracted with a nonspecific reference to author misconduct.  Three years later, Frumento was clearly identified as having fabricated data and a master’s degree, and added three retractions to his name. Now he’s got a fifth retraction, this one citing missing data and a lack of proof that data blinding was performed correctly.   Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: A retraction that is “useful for investigators”

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Title:  Yeast CAF-1 assembles histone (H3-H4) 2 tetramers prior to DNA deposition

What Caught Our Attention: Informative retraction notices can be infrequent, but rarer still are notices that fulfill an oft-ignored function: To be a source of learning for others in the field. Here, the authors offer a nearly 800-word “detailed description of the issues” with “some observations that may be useful for investigators conducting similar studies.” These authors embraced the retraction process, carefully explaining their findings or the lack thereof, for each figure from their now-retracted paper.     Read the rest of this entry »